Bowdoinham Town Clerk Pam Ross gives Marian Bagley, 91, a pin after Bagley was presented the town’s Boston Post Cane Saturday, recognizing her as the town’s eldest citizen. Behind them from left are selectmen Judith Gray, Tony Lewis and David Engler.  Darcie Moore / The Times Record

BOWDOINHAM — Bowdoinham continued a 110-year tradition when selectmen presented the town’s oldest known resident with a gold-topped cane Saturday.

Marian Bagley, 91, is the lastest Bowdoinhamer to hold the cane, which is kept on display at the town office. The cane passes from the oldest resident to the next. Chester Dean was presented with the cane in 2017. He died in September at age 99.

In 1909, Edwin A. Grozier, publisher of the Boston Post, gave canes to select boards in 700 New England towns. The canes, made of ebony from the Congo and topped with a gold pommel, were then given to the oldest male citizen in each town with the understanding the cane belongs to the town. After a controversial change in 1930, the cane was allowed to pass to women as well.

“It’s a big honor, but I don’t feel like I’m that old,” Bagley said after being handed the cane and a plaque.

Bagley moved from Thomaston to Bowdoinham in 1959 with her husband, Bob Blake, when they bought the Bowdoinham Country Store on Route 24. The couple ran three restaurants in the Thomaston area and decided to retire and run a general store.

The Blakes ran the store until 1976 when Bob Blake got sick. He died from cancer the next year. Within the next few years, she met and married Ron Bagley and the two bought the store back. They ran the store until selling it to David Skelton 18 years ago.

It was long hours, her children recalled Saturday.

“It was nice having a grocery store,” said her son, Bruce Blake. “We were together all the time. We worked in the store together. All the kids worked in the store. Mom worked the hardest.”

She ordered all the groceries, did the books and her husband worked as the butcher in the meat department. The store opened between 4 and 5 a.m.

Marian Bagley, 91, of Bowdoinham holds the town’s Boston Post Cane as the town’s oldest known citizen. Darcie Moore / The Times Record

Bagley’s motto was, “If I don’t have it, I’m going to get it.”

She’d drive to stores in Brunswick or Gardiner to get groceries or hardware when she ran out of something. A generous person, she donated a lot of money and let customers shop on credit.

“She would deliver groceries to everyone who needed groceries delivered to them throughout Bowdoin, Bowdoinham and even into Richmond,” her daughter, Patti Williams, said. “For Thanksgiving, she and her staff would get together and they would put together these baskets of Thanksgiving goodies including turkeys, stuffing and vegetables and give them to the families that the church and the town decided were the most needy.”

She made the job of running a store look easy, her family said.

Saturday, Bagley said she still misses the people.

“It was wonderful,” she said.




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